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A structural model of segregation in social networks

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  • Angelo Mele

Abstract

In this paper, I develop and estimate a dynamic model of strategic network formation with heterogeneous agents. While existing models have multiple equilibria, I prove the existence of a unique stationary equilibrium, which characterizes the likelihood of observing a specific network in the data. As a consequence, the structural parameters can be estimated using only one observation of the network at a single point in time. The estimation is challenging because the exact evaluation of the likelihood is computationally infeasible. To circumvent this problem, I propose a Bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo algorithm that avoids direct evaluation of the likelihood. This method drastically reduces the computational burden of estimating the posterior distribution and allows inference in high dimensional models. I present an application to the study of segregation in school friendship networks, using data from Add Health containing the actual social networks of students in a representative sample of US schools. My results suggest that for white students, the value of a same-race friend decreases with the fraction of whites in the school. The opposite is true for African American students. The model is used to study how different desegregation policies may affect the structure of the network in equilibrium. I find an inverted u-shaped relationship between the fraction of students belonging to a racial group and the expected equilibrium segregation levels. These results suggest that desegregation programs may decrease the degree of interracial interaction within schools.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series CeMMAP working papers with number CWP32/10.

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Date of creation: Nov 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ifs:cemmap:32/10

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  1. Elie Tamer, 2003. "Incomplete Simultaneous Discrete Response Model with Multiple Equilibria," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 147-165.
  2. Gilles, R.P. & Sarangi, S., 2004. "Social Network Formation with Consent," Discussion Paper 2004-70, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  3. Oriana Bandiera & Imran Rasul, 2002. "Social Networks and Technology Adoption in Northern Mozambique," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers 35, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  4. Jackson, Matthew O. & Watts, Alison, 2002. "The Evolution of Social and Economic Networks," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 106(2), pages 265-295, October.
  5. De Martí, Joan & Zenou, Yves, 2009. "Ethnic Identity and Social Distance in Friendship Formation," CEPR Discussion Papers 7566, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Andrea Galeotti, 2004. "One-way Flow Networks: the Role of Heterogeneity," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-031/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  7. Sergio Currarini & Matthew O. Jackson & Paolo Pin, 2009. "An Economic Model of Friendship: Homophily, Minorities, and Segregation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(4), pages 1003-1045, 07.
  8. Topa, Giorgio, 2001. "Social Interactions, Local Spillovers and Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(2), pages 261-95, April.
  9. Topa, Giorgio, 1997. "Social Interactions, Local Spillovers and Unemployment," Working Papers 97-17, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  10. Ryo Nakajima, 2004. "Measuring Peer Effects on Youth Smoking Behavior," ISER Discussion Paper 0600, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
  11. Monderer, Dov & Shapley, Lloyd S., 1996. "Potential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 124-143, May.
  12. Nicholas A. Christakis & James H. Fowler & Guido W. Imbens & Karthik Kalyanaraman, 2010. "An Empirical Model for Strategic Network Formation," NBER Working Papers 16039, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. L. Blume, 2010. "The Statistical Mechanics of Strategic Interaction," Levine's Working Paper Archive 488, David K. Levine.
  14. Elie Tamer, 2003. "Incomplete Simultaneous Discrete Response Model with Multiple Equilibria," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(1), pages 147-165, January.
  15. Giacomo De Giorgi & Michele Pellizzari & Silvia Redaelli, 2010. "Identification of Social Interactions through Partially Overlapping Peer Groups," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 241-75, April.
  16. Mayer, Adalbert & Puller, Steven L., 2008. "The old boy (and girl) network: Social network formation on university campuses," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 329-347, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Angelo Mele, 2013. "Approximate variational inference for a model of social interactions," Working Papers 13-16, NET Institute.
  2. Vincent BOUCHER & Ismael MOURIFIÉ, 2013. "My Friend Far Far Away: Asymptotic Properties of Pairwise Stable Networks," Working Papers tecipa-499, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.

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